Practical Equipping Strategies (Moving From ‘Minister’ to ‘Equipper’)

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  –Ephesians 4:11-13 (emphasis added)

The Greek word translated “equip” (or “perfecting” in the KJV), is KATARTISMOS (καταρτισμός), which means to completely furnish or to fully prepare.  This equipping is an internal work manifesting its fruit in external ministry service.  The verb form of the word is KATARTIZO and means to render fit or complete; to repair, to make an adjustment, or to mend.  As we trace the usage and application through the NT (see Mat 4:21, Gal 6:1, Heb 11:3, 1 Thess 3:10) we will find that the most effective equipping includes both “repairing” and “preparing” the people of God.

The “Why” of Core Equipping Competencies

In order to move permanently past 1,200+ people, the ministry has to be increasingly accomplished by teams of volunteers.  When churches are smaller, relationships carry things; in very large churches competencies carry things.  There is a need to create multiple reproducible structures and systems that are suitable for volunteers to do the majority of the ministry.  While volunteers often do not have the same proficiencies as professionals (teaching skills, Bible knowledge, etc.), real ministry increasingly needs to be accomplished in smaller groups through lay leaders who are growing in their conversational, facilitational, and emotional health skills.  (We cannot be spiritually mature without becoming emotionally healthy!)  People will stay connected while their lay-leaders are searching out answers for them; whereas, if a professional doesn’t have an answer for them—they will be less likely to stay.  People begin coming to a church for many reasons, but they (ultimately) stay for just one—it’s the social/community factor that keeps people, works with them, and supports them over time.  Ultimately, people are bonded by their relationships, which is certainly consistent with biblical teaching.

The “How” of Core Equipping Competencies

There are mandatory disciplines for serving momentum in a church.  Surges will continue if they are serviced.  Growth catapults churches into a new dilemma.  In smaller congregations, most problems are solved informally by the way people behave.  In a very large you can’t ignore problems and think (hope?) they’ll go away.

The following are general descriptions of the core staff competencies essential for pastoral/program staff at very large churches—and apply broadly to all staff.  These may not cover every competency required; yet they are essential skills that will move staff members from a “minister” (or, chaplain) role to an “equipper” (or, team builder) role.


Management guru Peter Drucker[1] asked the following (now famous) questions:

  1. What business are you in?
  2. How’s business?

Very large church staffs are in the people development business—seeking to Recruit, Train, Deploy, Monitor, and Nurture (RTDMN) as many as possible into fruitful and effective ministry.

Core Staff Competencies

Recruiting Skills:

  • Intentional about prayer and individually seeking out volunteers to staff, develop, and lead ministries (Mat 9:38)
  • While almost anyone can be trained to facilitate a group, approximately 20% of people have some form of leadership capacity. Look for the 1 in 5 that have leadership potential and develop them to their leadership capacity (see Ex 18:17-26)
  • Uses an invitation of positive language and our intention of offer life development skills (not just “church skills”) to “sell” the vision (Eph 4:12)
  • Start with the “why,” then move to the “how” and the “what”
  • Be clear about specific roles and opportunities
  • Be clear about the commitment required (time, preparation, responsibility, how long?).  Generally speaking, ask for a 3-month commitment

Training Skills:[2]

  • Help leaders plan effectively (ministry and training events)
  • Ability to create an environment that is safe for people to grow, disagree agreeably, and to make mistakes—which increases innovation
  • Able to resist the temptation to interrupt/take over (seek to become a non-anxious presence)
  • Ability to give clear and constructive feedback on a regular basis (Eph 4:15)
  • Ability to emphasize the positive over the negative (“sandwich” negative between two positives)
  • Willingness to regularly invite feedback

Deployment Skills:

  • Willingness to release people into meaningful ministry
  • Clearly stated short- and long-term goals and objectives
  • Realistically and proactively communicative about parameters, expectations, timelines

Monitoring Skills:

  • Establish consistent check-in times
  • Set-up consistent, effective, and agreed upon monitoring and feedback loops
  • Establish appropriate metrics to track progress

Nurturing Skills:

  • Follow-up with developmental care and input, not just ministry goals
  • Facilitate the personal growth of leaders (life skills not just church skills)
  • Ability to listen—reflectively
  • Schedule ongoing care, support, and training
  • Ability to build relationships that last
  • Provide special care and attention at crisis points, looking for opportunities to pastorally “equip the saints” – i.e., repair/prepare (Eph 4:12)

Developmental Coaching Skills Evaluation

Estimate your skill level in each of these areas using the following scale:

1 = Serious concern / 2 = Needs improvement / 3 = Good / 4 = Very good / 5 = Excellent

  1. Recruiting skills                      1    2    3    4    5
  2. Training skills                          1    2    3    4    5
  3. Deployment skills                   1    2    3    4    5
  4. Monitoring skills                      1    2    3    4    5
  5. Nurturing skills                        1    2    3    4    5

Additional skills:

  1. Regular prayer for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done—in and through the ministry  1    2    3    4    5
  1. Gospel-centered preaching and teaching 1    2    3    4    5

Action Steps:

  1. What are my strengths?
  2. What new skills do I need to learn?
  3. Who can coach/mentor me in this area?


[1] Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, (and Christian) whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation (1909-2005).

[2] Discipleship Loop:

  1. Jesus modeled kingdom life & ministry in public
  2. Jesus taught his disciples in private.
  3. He let them do it – and debriefed them afterward.
  4. He let them do it alone & they reported back.

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